Two weeks ago Apple and Microsoft made a joint announcement outlining plans for future joint technologies. The plans call for Apple to support a Microsoft database standard called Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) API (Application Programming Interface) as a standard in the Data Access Manager (DAM). In addition, "Microsoft and Apple have endorsed the combination of ODBC and Apple Data Access Language (DAL), via Apple’s DAM, a cross-platform solution." This also has to with SQL (Structured Query Language, pronounced "sequel").
I’m sure I’ll offend some serious database people, but frankly, what a load of crock. Any agreement with so many abbreviations won’t ever come to much, and for the vast majority of normal Macintosh users, it’s completely meaningless. (Hint. Most people can throw out the DAL extension that System 7 installs for you. If you don’t know what it is, you almost certainly don’t need it.)
Microsoft promised two main areas of support for Apple – support for forthcoming System 7.1 features and support for the PowerPC. Mr. Bill will have his programmers supporting Apple’s Open Collaboration Environment (OCE) along with the new QuickDraw GX, as well as increased support for Apple events and AppleScript. Big deal. This is good stuff, but not exactly surprising. You think the largest developer of Macintosh programs would actually ignore the major new features of Apple’s latest system software? Of course not.
What about supporting the PowerPC? Microsoft claimed that it will develop native mode versions of its main applications (probably just Word and Excel) for the PowerPC chip. I find this slightly more interesting because Steve Jobs and NeXT have needed such support for some time. As sick as this may be, the PowerPC stands a better chance of survival with native mode versions of Word and Excel. Do take that "native mode" with a grain of salt though – Microsoft develops everything in its internal p-code in order to enhance transportability between platforms. Transportability is in itself good, but the p-code tends to make Microsoft’s programs behave strangely at times when faced with new system software or hardware.
So why the love-fest? The Apple-centric view of the world says that Apple’s new anti-Windows ads worry Microsoft so Mr. Bill pressured Apple into cooperating in the press exercise. I suppose Apple might have wanted to reaffirm the link to ease the minds of large corporate accounts that exist solely on Microsoft products, fearing that these accounts would move to Windows to stick with Microsoft in the event the Mac versions of Word and Excel went away. Alternatively, Microsoft wished to counteract recent accusations that its interest in Windows has completely overshadowed its Macintosh development efforts. We’ll probably never know the truth, but my money says it was politicking.